Photo nice December Red Fox caught using a MB 550 Coilspring Trap on a scent post set lured with Lenon's Nature Call Fox Lure.
I’m happy to report that the 2017 / 2018 trapping season was both a very enjoyable and a safe one. The furs I caught did not financially make me rich but the memories on the trap line and time spent with family and friends enjoying my favorite pastime were beyond worth. I had many checks on Saturdays with my grandchild Tobyn were we had red fox and one with an otter. I can also report plenty of seed left as many a fox and coyote outwitted me. There were few other trappers encountered in the forest.
December there was plenty of snowy and cold weather. I got to take Bryan Flowers and his wife on our Michigan trap line and show him the facilities at Lenon Lures and PcsOutdoors. Both Bryan and his wife were great company on the line and a wealth of outdoor knowledge. You can view the episodes filmed in Michigan at Fur Life Tv http://gen7outdoors.com/furlifetv/
I actually picked up some pointers from Bryan on a hay set for fox and coyote during his stay. I had success within days of putting the hay set out on a really nice December red fox. To make a hay set you obviously need hay, a couple traps and an attractant. With snow on the ground and more coming I chose to use #3 Bridger dogless traps on six foot of trap chain and an MB trailblazer drag. Break up hay loose about three foot high by four foot wide and place it in an opening in the wood or fields were fox and coyote travel. The hay itself is a major attractant to Mr. Fox or Coyote and some Lenon Nature Call buried in the hay pile on some sheep wool is all you need to make Mr. Fox give up his hide.
My traps were simply placed on some hay and covered with a light layer of hay. The night after a snow fall I had a fox. I made several other hay sets that did not connect and as of writing this article in late December I’m still testing and experimenting with variations of the hay set. I definitely see a place for this set during the winter months for trapping fox and coyote.
Different times during the season when I had sets closer to PcsOutdoors, staff members that were not trappers got to check traps and experience seeing a few coyotes removed from the deer herd.
By the time I got around to beaver and muskrat trapping there was plenty of ice. I did not make a record catch but got plenty of exercise using my spud. The Beaver and Muskrat I did catch were really nice and prime. Both my wife and I caught nice otters.
The only disadvantage of catching your otter during the fall and winter trapping season is that when spring beaver trapping you have to make your sets with otter avoidance or risk catching an incidental. You could still catch an otter in a beaver castor mound set with a foothold trap but not as likely as you are to a 330 body grip trap in a narrow travel way. So this spring I will be setting on fresh beaver sign using a castor mound set. A castor mound set is simply some mud you place on shore near beaver sign and add some beaver lure for smell attractant and some peeled popular sticks for sight attractant. Place the trap, a number size 4 or 5, under two to three inches of water and attach to a drowner in deeper water about waist deep. Check the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Rule book for ending dates of beaver and otter season in your zones.
If you do get out on some nice March day for spring beaver trapping, make sure to put safety first. Rising water and partly ice and partly open water can make for dangerous conditions. I recommend wearing a life jacket around deep water areas. Also the water levels can fluctuate considerably in the spring making it difficult to keep sets in working order. The smallest ditch can get beaver traveling it during the spring, they have been under the ice for months and will be on the move with open water.
If you get lucky enough to catch an otter make sure to save the complete head and bring the head and otter pelt to a DNR station for tagging and sealing. The directions and places to take your otter for sealing are on the Michigan DNR website. You will not be able to sell your otter until it is tagged properly.
Fur prices remain low and as of December it looks to be a cold winter for our Nation. The cold weather and fewer trappers harvesting wild furs should eventually trigger a rise in fur prices. But either way I’ll be hiking the trails and paddling the rivers come November and December harvesting our plentiful renewable fur resources.